As at Sunday, June 28, more than 501,000 people worldwide had died from the coronavirus since it emerged in China late last year. The number of persons who had contracted the disease has also crossed ten million mark.
In China where the virus originated, 4,634 deaths were recorded since the epidemic began, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, China reported 85,148 coronavirus cases.
The US with 2,425,814 persons, Brazil with 1,228,114, Russia with 619,936, India with 490,401 and the UK with 310,836 are the countries worst affected by the virus. In Sri Lanka, where the government implemented a stringent lockdown and other measures to ensure that chances of the virus spreading were kept to a minimum. To date, 2,033 persons had contracted the disease as at June 28, with eleven deaths.
Speaking on the measures health authorities had taken to keep numbers down to such low levels, whereas the spread of the dreaded disease world-wise were numbering over two million and rising, Thilanka Ruwanpathirana, Consultant Epidemiologist of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health said, the country is not trying innovative treatments for Coronavirus patients using anti-HIV drug cocktails unlike some other countries, but is providing already approved ‘supportive’ therapy.
“So far the entire globe is trying to find a treatment and vaccine but until such time we will provide supportive therapy... Patients have been cured entirely on supportive therapy but not through definitive therapy” he said.
To protect the population from coronavirus, government closed its airports and entry points to the country. It also implemented a strict country-wide curfew for over a month to prevent the spread of the virus via personal contact. While these measures taken to protect the population from the virus have proved to be successful, it has come at a huge economic cost. The enforcement of these measures brought international trade to a standstill, crippled the import-export trade, the tourist trade, led to the shutting down of a significant number of medium and small commercial enterprises and brought the educational system in the country to a standstill.
The ‘New Indian Express’ quoted ex-premier Ranil Wickremesinghe saying measures taken to halt the spread of the virus have resulted in as many as half a million workers left unemployed. Given that the country’s workforce stands at approximately 8.2 million, it means around one eighth of the total workforce is now unemployed.
Additionally, even those who continue to be employed have had to face steep salary cuts of up to 50%. This in turn means, ordinary workers hardly have sufficient funds to provide their families with a square meal per day especially, in view of steep rises in prices of basic foodstuffs. Wickremesinghe criticized the government for the blanket ban on imports, saying the country was facing a negative economic growth. He suggested that the government needed to allow the market to operate in order to increase revenue.
In the US, President Donald Trump for these same reasons, did not implement similar stringent measures for fear of crippling his country’s economy. The fallout has resulted in over two million Americans falling victim to the disease with 124,416 fatalities and counting!
In India, implementation of even more stringent measures than in Sri Lanka helped keep coronavirus victims at a minimum. However, more recently, fearing the collapse of its economy, authorities loosend restrictions, leading to a surge in numbers contracting the disease and fatalities. By Friday, 490,401 Indians had contracted coronavirus and 15,301 lost their lives to it. 407 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours!
China, where the coronavirus first appeared, recorded 4,634 coronavirus deaths since the epidemic began, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, China reported 85,148 coronavirus cases. It brought the situation under control via lockdowns and controls. As the situation improved China relaxed its regulations. Unfortunately this led to a second wave of the disease.
What then is the answer? Lockdowns control the virus, and ruin the economy. Relax controls, open the economy and see a spike in sickness and death... What’s the option, either way people are dying in numbers. Can the world defeat the pandemic? Experts from specialized agencies such as the WHO to the Head of the US Centre for Disease Control, all speak of the need for a vaccine. The countries of the world need to pool their resources and join hands to overcome the pandemic.
Can the leaders of our world put aside their selfish and vain-glorious stances for the good of humanity? Or are we going to see more unnecessary deaths? The answer my friends, like the coronavirus, is ‘Blowing in the Wind...’, the answer is blowing in the wind.